Post Diagnosis First Job Interview

Post Diagnosis First Job Interview

It’s been a tough road post diagnosis with HPP.  I had to re-think all the plans I had made for my life starting with what in the hell I was going to do for work.  At 28yrs old and for the most part an active person most of my life, having to consider that I might not be able to handle a full time job, let alone get one in my field of education, was a hard pill to swallow.  I had to take the time and evaluate how much I could safely handle.  My field of choice and passion is EMS(emergency medical services), and there is nothing better to me then providing comfort and care to people in their darkest times.  I have worked as an AEMT for years.  Mostly on an on-call bases but hey it was something.  So never in a million years did I think I would get another chance to work in the field after diagnosis. 

RCecently I was offered a chance to work for my local EMS service.  I was over the moon excited and immediately started planning how I was going to do better, get in better shape, eat better, be better so I could foe fill my passion and help people.  Thankfully they offered the chance at part time, perfect for me, so I jumped at the chance, sent in my application, and within days was at the clinic for my pre-work screening.   

The pre-work screening is standard in any EMS position since you do have to be physically fit enough to carry the equipment and lift and work with patients.  I knew I would have no trouble there since I had been doing this stuff prior to diagnosis and treatment with Strensiq.  And of course there was the drug screen, which again I was prepared for knowing the medication I take would show up positive.  I had a doctors note saying they did not affect my mental faculties and I was able to function at a higher level when taking them given my chronic condition.  I had done this before with another EMT position and was met with no opposition.  The next part was a consultation with the doctor who would assess me to make sure my reflexes and medical history would not affect my ability to perform.  

So you can imagine my surprise when the doctor took one look at my medications, a standard question on the form, and started asking questions about what they were for and what I had.  Being that I had not shared with my potential employer my disease I was hesitant to discuss it, but I also know that lying could open me up to legal issues.  So I proceeded to give him the basics.  Shortly after my explanation of a disease this doctor knew nothing about he asked me, in a not so positive fashion, if I really thought this position was a good fit for me given my chronic condition.  I must admit that the moment following that question seemed to last longer than it did because never has anyone questioned my physical capabilities.  I was after all a life long athlete and strong despite my disease.  I’m not even sure how I stumble through my reply of something along the lines of “I was doing this prior to diagnosis and treatment so yes it’s the best fit for me plus it’s part time”.  I think the doctor was a little taken aback by my reply as well because he continued to press the issue with comments about my ability to recover compared to others.  Just to top it off he asked what I would do if my partner failed while we were trying to lift a 250lb patient into the ambulance.  Again my mental faculties stuttered since I’m pretty sure anyone on the job would struggle with that much dead weight on their own.  But I replied that since I had this condition I probably was better equipped to deal with this type of situation since I have already trained myself how to lift, move, fall, and catch myself in emergency situations.  He simply replied he was not here to judge that only to make sure I was making the correct decision and determine if my reflexes and muscle tone were good, which of course they were perfect. 

The rest of the screening was a breeze, not to say I completed it without pain, but no more than anyone else and I felt good, like I had proved I could still do this job I love.  But something started to eat at the back of mind, what the doctor had asked and how he talked to me.  Given that this had never happened before, and that it had taken a year for this job to come along, I wanted to be prepared for any outcome.  So I turned to my support group for of course support and advice. 

You can again imagine my shock when the comments starting coming in and they were not positive.  I was told to grow a thick skin because I might have to go through denial a dozen times before a company was willing to take the risk of hiring me.   I was told I was selfish for being upset about not getting the job (even though I hadn’t even heard from them yet), because other families had suffered more then me, lost children to the disease, and been told they had limitations their whole life.  I was told I complain to much and that I hide behind my #nolimits.  It took a dozen posts before someone stood up for me and anyone offered solid advise.  

Not only was I now worried about getting a job that I had previously thought would be no problem getting, but I was upset at the outpouring of negative and judgmental commentary coming from the one group of people I could turn to who would understand where I was coming from.  This is ridiculous I thought, what ever happened to good advice, sympathy, empathy, support and positivity.  Had I not suffered enough to deserve that from this group of people?  I started questioning myself, and I felt like I didn’t deserve this dream job, and my suffering was no longer valid, that my pain didn’t count, that my voice was only annoying rather than helpful.  Of course I cried, and round and round I went in my own head, trying to think my way out of the pit of despair I just been thrown into.  

I decided in the end that if I had to suffer more and go off my medications in order to do the thing I loved most, I would.  The physical pain I would potentially endure would be nothing to the prison I would otherwise live in inside my mind.  The depression of being told you can’t, you won’t, or you shouldn’t, to me is more debilitating then any physical pain I have been through.  So I would find a way, take the chances, make the changes.  I would endure.  But I also decided that for the first time social media, i.e facebook, was not a healthy place to get what I needed support wise.  It was because of social media that I had my meltdown and questioned myself so deeply, something I had not done since deciding I would not let this illness rule my life or limit what I was capable of doing.  This incident had gone on to blow out of proportion and not only affect me, but my relationship with my husband and my ties to the only community that could share in my struggles.

Long story short, after tears, depression, sleeplessness, questioning, doubting, and more, I decided to leave facebook.  I gathered my thoughts, renewed my inner strength with the help of some supporters, vowed to make changes in the way I deal with my personal relationships, and set my mind back in the right place which was that they had no reason not to hire me and to remain optimistic. 

People with HPP are doing amazing things they have been told they can not do every day.  Each person that accomplishes something brings hope to others for a life where limits do not apply.

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